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Embracing Virtual Hiring: How D2L Has Pivoted from Face to Face Events

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my almost 8 years at D2L, is our support and willingness to try new things in the Talent Acquisition space. In the past we’ve done in-person events to bring potential hires together with our hiring teams, such as Board Games night (Kitchener, Toronto and Winnipeg), Sell D2L Your Ugly Holiday Sweater (Kitchener), and our Time Capsule event (Kitchener) to name a few of my favorites. Couple that with on-campus career fairs and information sessions, and you end up meeting a lot of great people and shaking a lot of hands.

Then COVID-19 hit, and not only were we no longer able to work in an office, we were also not able to physically run our hiring events in the same fashion we were accustomed to. What came next was almost a form of grieving for in person events; I absolutely went into denial around our Talent Acquisition team’s ability to be effective without these traditional (though a bit outside the box) event types. I didn’t hit all the stages of grief (and this isn’t that kind of article), but once I had bargained with whether I thought in person events were good or bad, or effective or ineffective, I got to acceptance that both the world had changed, and our ways of hiring also would. To my surprise, given the restrictions we faced, we were able to be successful beyond what I would have expected.

The old phrase “If you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are” comes to mind. Everyone is online now, everywhere. So, how do you then look to try and replicate or iterate on the kind of in person events you were running before? Without the support of D2L’s leadership team across the company, honestly the answer would have been “you don’t”. However, our leaders here are overly supportive of our People and Culture team, and Talent Acquisition team within it. So, when we were tasked with adding more D2Lers to the company during a pandemic, which is quite opposite of what many companies and industries worldwide were doing, they were all ears to our ideas.

It started in mid-April, when we ran our first ever Ask Me Anything session with CTO Nick Oddson. We had over 100 attendees for a full hour of asking questions about D2L, our technology and how COVID-19 had impacted the business and our employees. From that session we had great feedback, which confirmed that we were on to something about running virtual events. Since that time, we’ve ran AMA’s for our Customer Engagement team, the Sales and Business Development teams, as well as a virtual Co-op Information Session and a Technical Interviewing preparation session. These were great warm-up and learning sessions for the big finale (to date, lots to come still!!): Virtual Career Fair Week at D2L!

Last week, June 22-26 we successfully ran a Career Fair type event each day at 5pm EST featuring some of our most Senior Leaders and top performers in our various departments, including Marketing, Product Development and Product Management, Sales and Business Development, Finance and People & Culture, and Customer Engagement. Many sessions were also kicked off by CEO John Baker, further cementing D2L’s commitment to these events from top to bottom. The initial feedback and results have been a resounding success. Over the course of 5 sessions, there were over 800 attendees who asked hundreds of questions via chat functionality in Zoom, where our Talent Acquisition team facilitated discussion and questions for the panelists. Much of the sessions were focused on career growth and development at D2L, not only how to get into the company but how to grow and where D2Lers can progress within different parts of the company. There were also great questions related to topics specific to the department hosting the session, ranging from technology stack to sales process, impacts of COVID-19 on our business to culture at D2L, and everything in-between.

Was it perfect? No, it never will be. We got great feedback after each session on ways we could improve for the next one, including the session structure, suggestions on ways to engage those on the call differently, or other minor tweaks. We also had our first experience with “zoom bombing” where someone used the Zoom annotations feature to graffiti our panelists bio’s, and messaging attendees in non-professional ways. So, we’ve also learned about some new features in Zoom to leverage. Through the process we improved our facilitating skills for events like this, like how to ask for questions in the chat first, then pick out ones that would be great to be asked and answered live by having attendees go off mute to deliver the question themselves. This made the sessions much more engaging than the Zoom webinar feature we had used on a previous session, where attendees were not able to directly speak with panelists.

This is something we’ve found worked well for D2L; it may or may not work well for all organizations, and a lot of our success comes from the constant support to do and try things differently in the ways that we look at our Talent Acquisition process.

If you had a chance to join us last week, thank you for taking the time to learn more about D2L. If you didn’t join, or didn’t even know we were running these, keep in touch with us on social media for the next time we do this kind of event, as we will be definitely be doing more in the future. And of course, no good virtual event recap blog would be complete without a link to our job openings, so if you or someone you know is in job search mode, we hope to see your application and when we return to the office, see you in our hallways as a D2Ler.

Special thanks to our Senior Leaders at D2L for their support of this event, to our Talent Acquisition team for embracing and running with the concept, to our People and Culture Business Partners for helping to secure panelists for the event, and to Alison Marshall for all of the coordination and planning that went into executing a great week of events!

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